What is a Smart Dash Cam?
Everything seems to come with "smart" features these days, from your watch to your television and washing machine. But what exactly does it mean for a device to be smart? And when it comes to dash cams and your safety on the road, does having a smart dash cam really make a difference?
Dash Cam vs. a Smart Dash Cam
While you can get by with a quality dash cam that doesn't include "smart" features, the added benefits of a smart dash cam do make it worth the money. For a device to be considered smart, it needs to be able to connect to the internet and/or other devices, such as your smartphone - usually via a companion app. When a device is connected, it can both communicate with those other devices and receive software updates, allowing any bugs or security flaws to be corrected and for the software to be upgraded with the latest features. This helps ensure that your dash cam is working at its best.
In addition to important software updates, a smart dash cam offers additional benefits:
- Saving video more easily – When your dash cam is connected to the internet, you can more easily transfer videos from the camera's limited memory to your cell phone, laptop, or cloud storage. Some smart dash cams will even save a back-up copy of locked videos automatically to preserve the footage. Dash cams without this feature require you to remove the SD card and use a special card reader to view and transfer video files; in some cases, you may need to remove the dash cam itself from the car to access the files.
- Access to a smart dash cam app – Smart dash cams usually have an associated phone app – such as the Drive Smarter® app – that gives you access to a variety of additional features. A smart dash cam app may allow you to view, edit, and share video clips, and may even connect you with other drivers to provide real-time alerts for speed enforcement, red light cameras, and more.
- Emergency notifications – If you're seriously injured in an accident, you may not be able to notify anyone about what happened. Emergency notifications, like Cobra’s Mayday Alert, allow you to set up a designated emergency contact who will be automatically notified when the G-sensor in your camera detects a severe impact and the driver does not respond.
- Insurance incident reports – Make the process of filing an insurance claim easier and speed up the claims process with a smart dash cam that automatically generates a draft incident summary if you're in an accident.
The exact features that your smart dash cam offers will depend on the device, so make sure that you understand what is available before you buy. Do your research to find out if the smart dash cam app associated with the camera has an additional charge, or if there's a limit to how much video you can save when cloud storage is included. You may also want to look for additional benefits, such as parking mode, advanced driving assistance (ADAS), or hands-free voice controls.
How Does a Smart Dash Cam Work?
A smart dash cam needs to connect to the internet, but how it does so may depend on the specific camera. Some of the most common connection methods are via Bluetooth® and Wi-Fi, which typically require a smart phone to enable the connection. Make sure that Bluetooth® is activated on your phone and that pairing is allowed. Also make sure you check whether your dash cam uses dual-band Wi-Fi to leverage both 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz spectrums. You may need to download a smart dash cam app for your device in order to connect, and the app can usually help guide you through the process for your specific device.
The Benefits of Community Alerts
In addition to the safety features that having a smart dash cam can provide, a smart dash cam app that offers community driver alerts can help you be more aware of what's going on around you and may even help you avoid potentially hazardous situations. When an entire community of drivers is providing real-time information on a dedicated app, you'll be able to drive with confidence, knowing what to expect.
The Cobra Drive Smarter® app provides over 100 million shared alerts each year, including notifications about speed enforcement, speed cameras, red light cameras, and more. You'll be better prepared for the traffic slow-down that might accompany law enforcement presence, for example, and plan your route more efficiently to avoid road hazards or other factors that could delay your trip.